Wednesday, December 17, 2014

George Dickel 'Hand Made the Hard Way' for Holiday Giving

Posted By on Wed, Dec 17, 2014 at 12:55 PM

At the George Dickel distillery in Tullahoma, their motto is "Hand Made the Hard Way," and that's the truth. Despite the fact that Dickel is owned by global spirit conglomerate Diageo, manufacturing at their Tennessee facility is still decidedly local and old school, with a staff of about 30 Tullahomans manning the distillery with little assistance from computers.

Unlike other distillery tours where you can walk through the whole place and see nary a craftsman, at Dickel you'll encounter most of the whole team. And the tour is also worth the trip because Cascade Hollow is one of the most beautiful and peaceful spots in the state.

In addition to their traditional No. 8 and No. 12 expressions, Dickel has recently emphasized their Barrel Select program. Made in small batches from 10 barrels at a time hand-selected by master distiller John Lunn, Barrel Select is an older and higher proof product than the bigger volume items in their portfolio. At 10 to 12 years old and 86 proof, Barrel Select is much more nuanced than No. 12, with strong notes of vanilla and spice.

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Not Ready for Christmas Dinner? Local Caterers, Restaurants and Grocers Can Help

Posted By on Wed, Dec 17, 2014 at 10:43 AM

  • Merridee's Breadbasket on Facebook
Has Christmas sneaked up on you this year? It has for me. Mid-week Christmases seem to always catch me by surprise. Christmas is next week!

Fortunately, a lot of local companies can help if you need to prepare or give food during the holiday season and don’t have the time in the next week to do so. The gift guide makes a lot of great suggestions for edible gifts, but what about that family gathering where you’re supposed to bring a casserole or a dessert? You’re covered there, too.

Martha Stamps Catering on West End has a number of sweet treats that you can give as gifts or repackage to present as your own (not that I would ever do that). The clementine pound cake and the orange cardamom baklava are calling my name. Email or call 615-983-8850 and be sure to allow 48 hours for preparation before pickup.

The folks at Corner Market Catering in West Nashville released their holiday party menu as well as the items you can order for pickup on Christmas Eve. Order an entire meal or just a few sides or desserts to round out your table. But you better hurry; all orders must be placed by calling 615-352-0527 by this Friday, Dec. 19.

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The Southern's Oysters Head Farther South to Saffire

Posted By on Wed, Dec 17, 2014 at 9:06 AM

When the name of your restaurant is The Southern Steak and Oyster, you'd best be on top of your bivalve game. Fortunately, the cold bar program at The Southern serves some of the best oysters in town, and they are well known for their selections of morsels on the half shell from both warm and cold weather regions.

In fact, they received a writer's nod in this year's Best Of Nashville awards.

So it's exciting news for Franklin folks to hear that The Southern is expanding its oyster program to its sister restaurant in The Factory at Franklin, Saffire. Chef Vinny Tardo and his staff at Saffire have begun to offer a selection of raw oysters on the half shell including Malpeque, Wellfleet, Beausoleil, Sweet Jesus and Blue Points. If the raw bar isn't your thing, you can also order grilled oysters with BBQ Butter or Garlic Parmesan.

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Gift Guide: Non-Terrible Presents for Humans Who Like Food

Posted By on Wed, Dec 17, 2014 at 7:30 AM

  • Photo: Lucky Peach

You might call the food fans you know "foodies," but I hate that word and refuse to use it, so instead of calling this guide "Gifts for Foodies," I instead present: Non-Terrible Presents for Food-Loving People Who Like Eating Food So Much They Might Also Want to Make It, Wear It, Play With It and Basically Celebrate It in as Many Ways as Possible.

A subscription to Lucky Peach magazine from Lucky Peach, $28
Lucky Peach is one of the best food-focused magazines to ever exist. They only publish quarterly, which is a shame, but each issue is packed with entertaining and thoughtful essays, recipes, interviews and other poignant and/or hilarious food-related writing by and about some of the coolest people working in the industry, including David Chang, Anthony Bourdain, Claudia Fleming and more.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Sweet Spot: Bang Candy's Bark in the Dark

Posted By on Tue, Dec 16, 2014 at 12:25 PM

The Sweet Spot is a weekly Bites feature where sugar addict Megan Seling reviews some of the best, worst and weirdest sweet treats sold here in Nashville. It appears on Tuesdays.

What it is: Bark in the Dark

Where I found it: The Bang Candy Co., $25 for a canister/$3.50 for individual pieces

What it tastes like: You may already be familiar with Bang Candy's Sparkle Bark, the beloved glittery peppermint chocolate bark that's dusted with sparkles and crushed peppermint, but now Sparkle Bark has a delicious, darker counterpart. Bark in the Dark is a rich combination of dark and white chocolate, lavender, lemon and ginger, and I love you Sparkle Bark, but it's even better than its peppermint-flavored friend.

The little bits of crystallized ginger pop (literally — the chocolate is filled with popping candy that tickles your tongue as it melts) and the lavender adds a very subtle flowery flavor without tasting like hand lotion. The crushed lemon candy on top gives the candy an extra crunch and just a touch of fruitiness.

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Local Food Activist Publishes Feeding Memphis

Posted By on Tue, Dec 16, 2014 at 7:58 AM

We've written a few times before about Michael Gregory and his efforts to help provide food security to local communities through his Urban Agrarian organization. Now Gregory has turned his good works to the west with the publication of a new book of profiles and recipes from some of the Bluff City's best restaurants titled Feeding Memphis.

Although the book focuses on Memphis chefs like Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman of Hog and Hominy, Felicia Willett of Felicia Suzanne's and Kelly English from Restaurant Iris, there are still Nashville connections.

Some of the beautiful photography, including the cover and appetizing food shots, is the work of talented local photographers like Michael Rutherford and Andrea Behrends. Gregory's son and former Bravo Gelato founder Noel Glasgow assisted in the production of the project and is helping to publicize the effort. Both Glasgow and Gregory hope to replicate the project in Nashville and other cities around the region soon as a way to share the importance of dining and giving locally.

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Biltmore Winery Introduces Vanderbilt Reserve Wines

Posted By on Mon, Dec 15, 2014 at 2:52 PM

My first experience with Biltmore wines was a few years ago when my husband’s parents brought back a gift of (very enjoyable) Biltmore Cabernet Sauvignon after a holiday trip to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C. Biltmore’s relationship with wine goes back a hundred years, but the on-site winemaking began in earnest in the 1970s, and the estate bottled its first wines in 1984.

Since those first wines (developed from grapes grown on the estate), the estate has expanded its selection quite a bit and now sources its grapes not just from its own land, but from other regions as well (other growers in North Carolina as well as Washington and California). It is with grapes grown in California’s Dry Creek Valley that the winery’s Vanderbilt Reserve wines — a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Cabernet Franc — were made. Both wines were developed in 2012 and bottled earlier this year and both are quite bold (though the Cabernet Franc is slightly more delicate). The wines were also produced in limited quantities and retail in the mid-$20 range. Vanderbilt Reserve wines would make an excellent gift for the wine-loving Vanderbilt fan on your gift list this year.

Biltmore wines are available throughout the Nashville area, including Midtown Wine and Spirits and Frugal MacDoogal, but you may want to check first on availability or to see if they can be ordered since the wines are limited editions.

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What'd You Eat This Weekend? Pulled Pork Sandwiches, Tandoori Chicken Poutine and Fancy Swedish Ginger Snaps

Posted By on Mon, Dec 15, 2014 at 1:24 PM

Tandoori Chicken Poutine from Chauhan Ale and Masala House
  • Tandoori Chicken Poutine from Chauhan Ale and Masala House
Steve Cavendish: "If we can’t get a decent version of poutine in Nashville, I’ll gladly settle for this Indian play on it from Chauhan Ale and Masala House, Maneet Chauhan’s new place in the Gulch. Fries are covered in cheese, chicken and an awesome makhani sauce, essentially a tomato, ginger and garlic cream with a little bit of chili powder in there for good measure. This is otherworldly bar food."

Carrington Fox: "After exhausting the trifle and malva pudding on the potluck table at the Friends of South Africa holiday party, I popped into the pop-up market and bought a few pounds of biltong and droewors from Carnivore Market. At first blush, it may seem like a surfeit of dried meat, but after all that trifle and malva pudding, it'll be perfect to jump-start a high-protein Paleo meat cleanse just in time for the holidays."

Laura Hutson: "I wasn't looking forward to eating the 1-year-old cake that had been in a Tupperware container in my freezer since my wedding day last year, so imagine my surprise when the mega slice of Elvis Cake from Sweet 16th was not only still palatable, but completely delicious. Happy anniversary, cake!"

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Give the Gift of Culinary Travel With the Charleston Wine & Food Festival

Posted By on Mon, Dec 15, 2014 at 7:56 AM

Dang, but we food enthusiasts can be a tough bunch to shop for sometimes. If it's a kitchen gadget, odds are we already have it. If it's a specialty food item, sometimes people bemoan the fact that they didn't discover it themselves. So this year, you might consider the gift of culinary travel for that hard-to-shop-for foodie on your list.

The Charleston Food & Wine Festival is one of the pre-eminent culinary events in the South each year, and in 2015 they will celebrate the 10th iteration of the festival. Several Nashville chefs have already signed up to be a part of the party, so keep your eyes here for more information on that list as it becomes finalized. In addition to our local talent, chefs from across the region, the country and around the world flock to Charleston, S.C., the first weekend of every March to participate in special dinners, seminars and tasting events.

The full schedule is already pretty much pulled together, and tickets for most of the events are still on sale at the festival website. But if you're not exactly sure what your foodie friends might specifically like to experience in Charleston, you can also avail yourself of gift certificates or special event and hotel packages.

Since you'll probably be a little stir-crazy by early March, why not go outside and participate in the big Chefs Golf Classic at the Patriot’s Point golf course on Charleston Harbor? You'll scramble your way around the course while encountering pop-up cocktail bars and food tents along the links, and you might even end up with a famous chef on your team.

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Friday, December 12, 2014

Kristen Gregory on Cutthroat Kitchen This Sunday

Posted By on Fri, Dec 12, 2014 at 11:18 AM

Past Chopped champion Kristen Gregory returns to the Food Network airwaves this weekend as a contestant on the highly entertaining "Cutthroat Kitchen," a show where the ground is constantly changing underneath chefs' feet.

The episode, titled "When Pigs Fry," will air Sunday night at 9 p.m.:

Three chefs get sloppy as they dig for ingredients in a slop trough. Then, one chef has to grab their curry spices out of midair. Finally, one chef gets into a big, blue ball to make blueberry muffins.

There is no clip available, but check out the video of host Alton Brown taking you on a behind-the-scenes tour of the show's kitchen. It's pretty damned cool.

Gregory's been pretty busy lately, splitting her time between Firefly Grille in Green Hills and the newly opened Fly South in Leiper's Fork.

We'll be tuned in.

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